Shakespeare and Company is producing a new version of Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage, a play about everyday life and death in Germany during the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648).
Bruce Chadwick provides a synopsis of the 1939 play in his review of this production: “Mother Courage is about a small tine war profiteer, Ann Fierling, who, with her three grown children, two men and a mute woman, follows the Swedish army and trudge across enemy lines pulling their canteen wagon to sell food, drink and supplies to soldiers. They are sucked into the middle of the war and quickly discover that everybody likes them – and everybody hates them. It is the story of Anna’s need to make money in a war that leaves her practically bankrupt and threatens the lives of her children. Yet she keeps at it.”
According to Chadwick, “Director Tony Simotes has staged a dramatic play, a searing search for truth on the battlefield, any battlefield. He has soldiers and townspeople streaming through the aisles of the theater and choruses singing sad songs about death and calamity.”
Mother Courage is one of the most important literary interpretations of the Thirty Years’ War and a significant source on the historical memory of this conflict, as well as the broader European Wars of Religion (1520s-1650s).
HNN published Bruce Chadwick’s review of Mother Courage. Thanks to my colleague Taylor Atkins for sharing this review with me.